Mike Brown is best known for demoting Pluto to a dwarf planet. Thus, marking our solar system a home to just eight planets. Brown has recently gained popularity for proposing the possibility of Planet Nine hiding in the depths of our solar system. This news has skywatchers across the globe prepare to scan the sky and discover something new.
It has been a two-year hunt for Planet Nine. As attention picks up each season, scientists around the globe consider this possibility and join the search. Large telescopes, mathematical equations, and simulations have provided us with hints of its orbit, but there’s more to Planet Nine than meets the eye.
Brown suggests there is a clear line of path to keep our eyes on. It appears to be fair game for scientists and skywatchers alike. Discovering something new in a solar system we thought we knew so well might provide insights as to how our solar system came to be in the first place.
Planet Nine’s characteristics
Planet Nine is said to be 10x the mass of Planet Earth and 20x further from the sun than Neptune.
While scientists have a map of its potential orbit, Brown suggests we might be able to find Planet Nine the same way we discovered Neptune – through mathematics.
It was said that Galileo first spotted Neptune, but dismissed it as a star. Scientists didn’t use their eyes to find Neptune. They later discovered Neptune in 1846 using mathematics and observations of gravitational discrepancies in Uranus orbit.
Brown suggests the same gravitational discrepancies are occurring when it comes to finding Planet Nine.
Finding Planet Nine
Mike Brown proposed the same theory after noticing gravitational discrepancies of exoplanetary orbits and suggests we might be able to use some of the same mathematical techniques used to find Neptune.
When it comes to distant objects, technology provides assistance in capturing images, but when our telescopes and cameras can’t get us as far as we’d like or see beyond stars and gas in space, math proves to serve as another pair of eyes. These mathematical equations can help usher our eyes to the right location in the sky.
The season for search:
Mike Brown and his team often use the Subaru telescope in Hawaii. As more scientists join the search, telescopes are scanning the skies worldwide. While strong telescopes are crucial, the main thing to consider is exactly where to look.
Brown proposes the path of Planet Nine is located between the Taurus constellation and the Pleiades. According to Scientific American, the search can only take place at certain times of the year, chiefly during the Northern Hemisphere’s autumn and winter, when the general region where Planet Nine might live is high in the sky.
Brown suggests, “It will be interesting to see if we can use the same mathematical techniques that were used to discover Neptune.”
Join the search
As the winter approaches, keep your head high. Planet Nine might be worlds away, but by noticing minuscule differences in the night sky, we might find something extraordinary. Nasa recently conducted a search, Backyard Worlds, including civilians by sending pictures of the night sky to be scanned through for any differences.
Discovering a new planet is an extraordinary feat. It also means we’ll gain insights as to how our solar system formed. If that’s not convincing enough, whoever finds this planet gets to name it. So search wisely!
Written by Michelle Estevez